Lent is almost at the halfway mark. I have battled in places. I have succeeded in places. I have spent a lot of time pondering and questioning my Faith. I have challenged myself, I have challenged others. I have even challenged my Faith.
The whole Lenten experience has changed for me over the years. Now I even find it changing year on year as I grow older (or is it wiser?). As a child we all probably clutched onto our Mite boxes, filling them with enough coins that we actually had to lug them to church at Easter (is that because then we still had 1c, 2c and 5c coins as well?). Sometimes the little box could not even handle the strain. We mostly gave up cold drinks, sweets, chips and other delights. Social media and cellphones could not be given up - could not give up something that didn’t exist. I did have a friend at Primary School (we did Catechism first at Mount St Bernard that was in Waterkloof / Waterkloof Heights) and then at St Pius X, who gave up swearing every year (he was in Std 4 and had quite the vocabulary). His Lenten effort usually lasted from Ash Wednesday to around 2 Sundays after that. And then with a very loaded sentence he would denounce any further efforts. I somehow don’t think that he had a Mite box. The church would have made a fortune off of him.
This year our dear Padre suggested that we give up something that we can keep “given up” after Lent. A habit or whatever that we should not just set aside for 40 days. I decided to go with a “let me try keep it up for longer than 40 days” effort, as well as a simple “let me go without it for 40 days”effort. The let me go without it has been challenging every time I want to have a Mc Donalds little cone in caramel dip. Or when I go to Lucky Bread or Grounded @ Echo and want to have a peanut butter shake. Those that know me know how I love those two items. However neither are fun without the ice-cream. Also being sadly missed are the Sunday morning after Mass waffles and ice-cream at Royal Danish. A Sunday morning waffle is a bit sad looking if it lies there on the plate, alone, glancing furtively at the ice-cream tubs in the display counter. So ice creamless I am for 40 days. Then my “keep it up after Lent” plan has taken some concerted effort on my part. Old habits are hard to shrug off. Have a failed on this one? Sometimes yes, but I have succeeded more times than failed, and I know that I am making a big effort. And that counts for something.
Prayer and Almsgiving have to, in my mind, be an ongoing effort. Not just for Lent. I have the added blessing of working in the Parish Office and for the Parish Priest. It means the church and the Adoration Chapel are a few steps from my office. I am able to walk across every day, more than once a day, for a few minutes or a “cup of coffee with the Lord”. Sometimes I think God sees this as more of a curse than a blessing, because there are times when I go across so often that He must be thinking “What, seriously? - Again?”.
Then there are the Sundays. Apparently we do not have to do our Lenten sacrifice on Sundays. I have two schools of thought on this ... firstly if you have given up something for Lent and want to perhaps take a little respite on Sundays, so be it. I have greater opinions about giving up something for Lent and then stockpiling that thing on Sundays in order to survive without it the coming week. Seems a little futile to me, but then perhaps some would think it quite fine if I resorted to having 3 peanut butter shakes and 4 caramel dip cones on Sundays? I don’t think so. I have yet to have my Sunday ice cream ...... but oooh the temptation.
So on I go. Curving around the halfway mark. I have also had much time to think more deeply about my Faith. I have had many deeper questions about the Catholic Faith. About the “rules” and other things that I have pondered over and I have utilized my Padre’s vast knowledge to debate these with him. Sometimes I think even he must think “What, seriously? - Again?”.
However I believe that we never stop growing in our Faith, nor should we. It is such a huge part of my life, so why should it not evolve along with me? Questions are not necessarily criticisms, they are to me, just a deepening of my Faith. And that has been big to me this Lent.
So ice creamless I wander forth. Pondering (not just about the shakes and waffles), my Faith and the other thing I hope to keep up after Lent.
Catholics - gotta love us.
C’est la Vie xxx